My daughter is only 3-years-old, so it'll be years before her first sleepover. Still, the idea of having a gaggle of girls over to kick back in their own little space is so darling to me that I can't wait. Born in 1982, I straddle that cusp between Gen-X and millennials, so the '90s covered most of my childhood and all of my teen years. Pretty much all of my sleepovers occurred in that decade, and there are things every '90s mom should bust out at her daughter's sleepover that would be negligent of me not to share with my daughter.
Sleepovers are a ritualistic tributes to the emotions of a girl. They can be fun and giggly — where you spend the night choreographing dances to your favorite songs and eating ice cream while you swoon over crushes. They can be just what you need for a good group cry, too. Sleepovers can encourage rebellion, sometimes through peer pressure (we all saw how Sandy smoked a cigarette in Grease!). At their worst, they can be the stage Machiavellian power struggles among peer groups that end in gossip and humiliation. (WHY DID YOU TELL KELLY'S BROTHER I LIKED HIM KRISTIN?! I HATE YOU!)
But there are some aspects of a classic '90s sleepover than no girl, regardless of her generation, should go without. And while it will be a while before I'll get to share all this with my own child, I'm mentally preparing myself by gathering the following:
A Blockbuster Display
What was a '90s sleepover without first having your parents drive you to the local Blockbuster? You and your girl gang could maraud the aisles, swarming the rom-com and horror sections. (Or the occasional costume drama because, duh, Ever After anyone?) If you were lucky, your parent would wait in the car and hand you their card so you could make it an unhurried social outing in and of itself. If you were unlucky, you would have to beg them to rent a rated R movie for you. ("Amanda's mom is totally cool with it, I promise!")
Kids today will never know the thrill of the hunt. The joy of seeing a display movie cover you really want to watch only to discover that the video behind it has already been checked out. This is a tragedy and a crime, and so I consider it my moral responsibility to recreate a Blockbuster display in my basement so my daughter will one day understand.
If one does not first the ghost of the boy who was murdered in this house 100 years ago (even though the house was built in 1974 and no, I'm not moving it, Ashley!), what would one be scared of in the middle of the night? Though they certainly pre-date the '90s, Ouija boards are a quintessential aspect of any sleepover, and I need to ensure that this tradition lives on.
A Three-Way Phone Call
Either by actually making a three-way call (which was an awesome novelty back in the day) or by calling someone while your friend listened in on another phone in the house (usually a crush), the drama of the three-way conversation is a hallmark of the sleepover and I will absolutely encourage/force them on my daughter.
"Mom," she will likely say, "This is stupid. I can make a three-way call any time I want. Besides, it's 2027! Um, everyone communicates telepathically through the use of a chip inserted into our brains. What's the point?"
And I shall shake my head in dismay because kids these days, yo.
'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark'
It's the safest way to traumatize a child I've ever come across. I saw an unintentionally creepy (but decidedly creepy) scarecrow today while driving and I immediately thought of Harold, and I almost had a panic attack and crashed my car. You may wonder why I would want to subject my own daughter to such terrors, and to that I say, "I cannot be alone in these nightmares. The lore must live on."
Bath & Body Works Lotions
Was this not, like, a thing at '90s sleepovers? Before everyone went to bed we'd all whip out the Bath & Body Works lotions and moisturize from head to toe. I never did this as part of my non-sleepover routine, but I definitely gave in to peer pressure. (Though I was still a rebel as the only person I knew whose favorite scent was Juniper Breeze.)
To date, those scents take me back to my friends finished basements and bedrooms. Those scents are the secret to time travel, and I want my daughter to be able to have the same olfactory trigger.
It's basically the perfect slumber party movie, you guys. It's a great segue to the Ouija board (or "Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board" which, I can tell you from experience, never works when you're a fat kid for some totally unexplained reason).
If you are going to introduce this to your daughter's slumber parties (and you should) just be aware that this could be a gateway to saying "Bloody Mary" three times in a mirror. You must discourage this in the strongest possible terms, because that b*tch is real and she will kill you.
As if we could overlook this '90s treasure. It's the other perfect sleepover movie, you guys! Lighthearted, funny, fashionable and Paul Rudd... who will still be crushworthy for your daughter because he hasn't aged at all.
As in Mansion, Apartment, House, Shack? The definitive way to discover your future. Our daughters deserve to be prepared, and so I will promote this at her sleepovers until the day I die... which will apparently be at the age of 90 when I am crushed by scaffolding.
Taylor Egan is not an actual person: they are an idea. They are the person you had a crush on (perhaps without knowing a thing about) who occupied way too much of your mental energy and a solid 40 percent of your sleepover discussion.
Every little girl needs a Taylor to crush on at the sleepover. I hope my daughter and I can establish a list of potential Taylors before any of her sleepovers so we know which one to focus on. She will not find this weird or embarrassing at all.
Flannel Pajama Pants
Flannel pants were basically a fashion item in my middle and high school years. While I wasn't usually into mainstream fashion choices (I was more of a ripped tights, black velvet aesthetic myself... even though none of my friends were) I envied the casual grace with which some girls seemed to pull off baggy flannel pajama pants. They wore them to school, to play practice, to Blockbuster (again, I cannot stress how large a role Blockbuster played in the suburban social scene of the '90s). They were, of course, essential sleepwear, and therefore sleepover dress code.
If my daughter's friends show up to my sleepover... I mean... my daughter's sleepover in some legging nonsense they will be sent away forthwith.
A 'Sassy' Magazine
This was the off-beat girl's Seventeen and it was glorious. A complete volume should be available to every young person who wants one. (And it is!) My daughter will have to understand that teen magazines were, in many respects, my internet. Gathering around and passing copy of Sassy back and forth among friends at a sleepover was an important activity for pre-teen me.
A Debate The Backstreet Boys Vs N*Sync
I'll ask her the question probably around 10:30 p.m., around the time everyone has settled in. I'll poke my head in the door.
"Backstreet or N*Sync, sweetie?"
"What the...? What's an N*Sync?" I'll laugh.
"I don't know. I've never heard either of them."
"Look, I didn't listen to them when I was your age, either, but all my friends did, and so this was a discussion literally every time we got together. If I had to hear this nonsense so do you."
"This is stupid."
"It's not a sleepover if you don't talk about it!"
"Just tell me which one you think is better."
"I don't know... Backstreet Boys?"
A Group-Sing Of 'Wannabe'
I'll encourage my daughter to really push to be Ginger, because she was the best one. Obviously.
TGIF & SNICK
Depending upon the night of the sleepover, obviously? Friday? Hunker down for some Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, Step by Step, Dinosaurs, and, of course, Full House (depending on the year you were watching, since the line-up changed). Saturday? Time for some Saturday night Nickelodeon, all leading up to the crown jewel of SNICK offerings, Are You Afraid of the Dark? because of course. (Again: perfect sleepover fare.)
A Home-Made Face Mask Made From A Recipe Found In 'Seventeen' Magazine
I swear to god they published the same recipe every month but called it something different: it was always made of some combination of oatmeal, honey, and yogurt. It never did anything, but it was an important milestone, nevertheless.
It wasn't reserved for sleepovers, but sleepovers were a great place for makeovers which, of course, include body glitter. We loved us some glitter.
Perhaps nothing else can convey the pure magic and absurdity of the '90s quite like the body glitter trend. It was stupid, corny, and fun. Occasionally, it was used to great (if dated) effect. That's the sort of tween-to-teen experience I want for my daughter, and that's why, when the time comes for her to have sleepovers of her own, I will equip her with everything she needs.
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